LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Police Commission on Friday presented the Police Officer of the Month recognition to two officers for their lifesaving efforts.
Patrol officers Joseph Russell Himongala and Makana Rivera were recognized for their response during the heavy storm that hit Kaua‘i in early March. Officer Rivera was unable to attend the event after pulling a double shift.
Police Commissioner Charles Iona said the eyes of the world were on Kaua‘i with media coverage of the rain and its damage.
“When these kinds of acts occur it’s nice to know that we have individuals that will step up and save lives,” Iona said. “I am very proud of these two individuals.”
Lihu‘e District Supervising Officer Damien Loo read the report that resulted in the award nomination.
Shortly after 12 p.m. on March 5, Himongala and Rivera responded to a call of a vehicle submerged in water off Loop Road in Wailua. Upon their arrival, the officers located two occupants sitting on top of a submerged truck surrounded by fast moving water roughly 40 meters off shore.
The officers threw the couple a rope to secure themselves while they awaited back-up. Additional rescue personnel arrived within minutes but as rescuers set up for the rescue, the couple fell from the truck into the rushing waters below.
Still holding onto the rope, Rivera was nearly pulled into the river but with the help of the other officers, firefighters and bystanders, the couple were pulled safely out of the water without injury.
Himongala and Rivera used exceptional judgment and quick thinking to help the couple to safety, Loo said. They were recognized for their courage and dedication to serve the public and save lives.